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Pats set to open pre-season (news and notes)
By Greg Harder Thu, Aug 27 2009 COMMENTS(0) Slap Shots
The Regina Pats departed Thursday morning for Edmonton, where they’ll take part in a pre-season tournament on the weekend. Regina is slated to meet the host Oil Kings on Friday, the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday and the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday.
After more than 50 cuts, the Pats’ roster is starting to take shape, with 35 players still in the fold: Four goalies, 12 defencemen and 19 forwards. That means two goalies, four defencemen and up to five forwards are still on the chopping block.
Head coach Curtis Hunt will mix up his lineup for each game to get a look at everyone, including the four players headed for NHL camps: D Matt Delahey (New Jersey), D Colten Teubert (L.A.), RW Garrett Mitchell (Washington) and RW Jordan Eberle (Edmonton). Eberle’s presence in Oiltown usually causes a stir in the local media, so this trip shouldn’t be any different, especially with Edmonton’s rookie camp just around the corner. Regina’s four NHL campers are expected to leave next weekend (Sept. 4-5).
— As a follow-up to a post from a couple days ago, G Linden Rowat and RW Brett Leffler are indeed no longer scheduled to attend NHL camps. They took part in summer development camps with the Ottawa Senators and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively, but those teams didn’t extend invitations to their main camps. As a result, Leffler and Rowat will have to put their entire focus into their final WHL campaign in hopes of earning pro contracts next summer. Both are more than capable of doing so.
— Assuming Delahey returns from New Jersey — which appears to be the case, but is far from certain — the Pats will have five 20-year-olds competing for just three openings (Delahey, Rowat, Leffler, Mitch Czibere and Matt Strueby). Although Rowat remains the team’s most-proven and reliable commodity between the pipes, the Pats may not be deep enough as a team to use a 20-year-old goalie unless he’s a huge difference maker. With three other netminders who have significant upside knocking at the door, the Pats may have no choice but to go in that direction. That said, they won’t give Rowat away — or any of their other goalies, for that matter. Either way, GM Brent Parker will be looking to maximize that depth. He won’t want a repeat of last year’s goalie dilemma, which dragged out until November when the Pats finally sent Jeff Bosch to Moose Jaw for Neal Prokop — a deal they’d like to have back. Prokop was eventually traded to Tri-City for F Jason Gardiner, who’s currently out with a knee injury.
— Rookie G Dawson Guhle — the subject of a story in today’s Leader-Post — is tentatively slated to play on Saturday against Medicine Hat. But first the Pats’ brass needs to meet with the family in hopes of receiving a full commitment from the 17-year-old prospect. Guhle apparently wants to make sure he’s choosing the right course before playing in a game and forfeiting his NCAA eligibility. He’s reportedly being heavily pursued by the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. The Pats are extremely high on the young netminder and believe he should be playing in the best league. Based on my conversation with him Wednesday, it appears that Guhle wants to be here as well. I would be surprised if it doesn’t happen.
— D Aaron Enns was a late cut following Tuesday’s Blue & White game. Why? According to the Pats, he was looking for some sort of assurance that he’d be on the team this season before he played in the pre-season, thus losing his NCAA eligibility. Although he was in the mix, the Pats couldn’t guarantee he’d crack the top eight blueliners, so they returned him to the BCHL. Regardless, I get the impression that Enns would have had a tough time beating out the likes of Brandon Davidson, who has positioned himself well to make the team if he has a strong pre-season.
— As expected, the Brandt Centre will still be under construction when the Pats play their home pre-season opener on Sept. 9 against the Brandon Wheat Kings. However, there are now rumblings that the 1,000 new seats being installed on the east end may not be totally complete in time for the Pats’ regular-season opener on Sept. 19 against Brandon. Meanwhile, there are some other positive changes to report in the Brandt Centre. For one, the team’s dressing room is undergoing renovations while new coaches offices have been built across from the dressing room, adding more space to the existing room for training purposes.